Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jacob, THE STONE OF ISRAEL, Gives Blessings to his Twelve Sons; Prophecy and Where They Lived in Canaan

Nadene Goldfoot

Back in Abram's day of the 2nd millennium, you married into family.  Abram's son by Sari was Isaac and Isaac's son was Jacob.  Leah and Rachel were 1st cousins to Jacob.  The girls'  father was Laban and Laban was the brother of Jacob's mother, Rebekah.  In fact, Rebekah was married to Isaac.  Rebekah was Jacob's aunt.
Jacob's first love was Rachel, and he thought he had married her, but his father-in-law, Laban,  made sure his oldest daughter, Leah, the one with weak eyes, would be married first.  So Jacob married Leah and had 6 sons and a daughter with her.  Then he worked some more to marry Rachel.  Being concerned about needing to produce more children, Jacob took the handmaidens of his 2 wives and had 2 sons from each of them,  Jacob blessed the tribes individually, each in line with its own character and ability so they would follow the paths meant for them.  His blessings made it clear that each has its own unique mission.

!. Reuben was his first son.  He had water-like impetuousness.  He couldn't be a first because of an error of judgement involving Jacob's bed which desecrated Jacob. He had been against his brother's plot against Joseph.  Later he had volunteered as surety for Benjamin during his visit to Egypt.  Reuben had broken the law by having an affair with Bilhah who belonged to Jacob.  Therefore, Jacob gave Reuben's 1st rights to Joseph.  Reuben  received land in Moab (Transjordan) because it was fertile but this presented political problems even then, and much of their land fell into the hands of the Moabites or Ammonites.  Reuben in 721 BCE was one of the 10 tribes exiled to Assyria by Tiglath-Pileser.  They had been more isolated and had not much of a role in the history of the land after they had settled there.

2. Simeon, with Levi- had tricked people of Shechem, captured the town, killed all the men, captured the women and children without telling their father, Jacob.  Simeon would get land within the lot of Judah in 2 places of the Negav of minor importance.  Later during Hezekiah's reign, they would take Arab land of Seir.  Some settled in the mountains of Ephraim.

3. Levi :  Both were comrades in a conspiracy, so Jacob's soul would not be a part of them.  They had raged and murdered people.  They hamstrung an ox.  Their rage and harsh wrath is to be accursed.   They are to be dispersed in Israel. During 2nd Temple period, their previous act of avenging the dishonor of their sister, Dinah, was looked upon as honorable.  Levi had one daughter, Jochebed, mother of Moses, and 3 sons; Gershom/n; Kohath whose son was Amram, father of Moses, and Merari.  Levi died in Egypt at age 137.  The Levites came from Levi.  They would be concecrated by Moses to serve in the Temple as Priests or Cohens , and would be today's J1 (Y haplogroup) or Cohen gene.  They were excluded from inheriting land but received 48 towns as places they could live in and be teachers in that area.
4. Judah shall be acknowledged by his brothers and you will hold your enemies at by by the nape of their neck.  Your brothers will bow to you.   Judah is like a lion cub.  You have elevated yourself.  Judah will hold the scepter of ruling.  Judah was to be the source of of Jewish leadership and royalty, of the Davidic dynasty and Messiah.  His brothers will admire him and all will say "I am a Yehudi or Judahite or Jew!  They will not want to distinguish themselves as being  a Reubenite or a Simeonite, etc.  All will be called Jews.

5. Zebulun engaged in commerce and supported Issachar, so Jacob gave precedence to him first with his prophecy.  Zebulun shall live by the seaside.  He shall live by a ship's harbor, and his last border will reach Zidon.  He was the 6th born.  His tribe got territory in the central Canaan called the Valley of Jezreel.  They are connected with trading.  The scholarly descendants of Issachar were supported by the tribe of Zebulun.

6. Issachar, who is older than Zebulun,  will live between the boundaries.  He's like a strong-boned donkey in that he enjoys peace and tranquility and pleasant land.  He will not be afraid to work on it and will be an indentured laborer. He really was the 5th son and had the 3rd largest tribe with 64,309 at the end of the exodus.  Their land was between Mt. Tabor and the  Jordan River including much of the Valley of Jezreel which was fertile.  Some of the tribe was saved from the Assyrian exile, and men of this tribe answered Hezekiah's calls to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. Their scholars were supported by the tribe of Zebulun. 

Jacob went on to the older son Dan,  of Bilhah,  Rachel's maidservant.  He mentions Rachels 2 sons for the end.
7. Dan will avenge his people.  The tribes of Israel will be united as one.  Dan will be like a snake laying on a highway or a viper by the path that bites a horse's heels so the rider falls.  Jacob prayed for his salvation.  He was Jacob's 5th son.  He was given a section south of Jaffa, but forced back into the hill country by the Amorites.  Only a part of the tribe remained on the coastal region.  A large part of the tribe took a settlement area from the Phoenicians arund Laish.  The northern part of Dan was the site of a temple where the descendants of Manasseh or Moses acted as priests.  It then was one of the cult centers in Ephraim.  Jeroboam put in it the image of a calf to draw away worshippers from Jerusalem.  Dan was captured by the Syrian, Ben Hadad in 900 BCE. The biblical city of Dan (Laish) has been excavated.  

Then Jacob spoke about Zilpah's older son, Gad.
8.  Gad will also be a fighter and will recruit a regiment, but it will retreat on its heel. Jacob had prophesied that after the conquest, Gad would return safely on its heel  by the same roads and paths that they had first traveled, and not one of the troops would be lost.   Their territory was on the east of the Jordan.   They crossed the river to assist their brothers in conquering the land.  

Zilpah's 2nd son was next:
9. Asher:  Asher's land will be so rich in olive groves that it will flow with oil like a fountain and he will provide kingly delicacies.  His rich produce will be worthy of royal tables and will be sought by kings.  His bread will have richness.  His land extended from Western Galilee to the South of Carmel.  Actually, he was Jacob's 8th son.  

Bilhah's 2nd son:
10. Naphtali is like a hind (deer) let loose who delivers beautiful sayings.  He must have a gift of words.  He really was the 6th son of Jacob.  His tribe would live in the northern part of Canaan including the whole east coast of the Sea of Galilee and the mountains of Galilee.  They warred against Sisera and Gideon's campaign against the Midianites.  His land was overrun by the Arameans in the time of Baasha, but large section of its people were exiled by Tiglath-Pileser.  The survivors were ancestors of many of the Jews living in the Galilee in the 2nd Temple times.  

Jacob then was able to marry Rachel and had two sons.  Rachel died soon after the birth of Benjamin, her youngest.  Her first son was Joseph, the brother that the other sons were jealous of and had sold to passing traders causing Joseph to end up in Egypt and be lost to the family for many years. 
Only Joseph was given this special coat
causing a lot of jealousy 
Joseph sold into slavery by jealous brothers

11. Joseph is his charming son, handsome like his beautiful mother.  Joseph will not inherit land in Canaan but his 2 sons, Ephraim and Manasseh will in his place.  They have maintained their religion in the face of hostility and temptation of Egyptian culture.  Son Joseph had risen to power despite the hatred he had suffered.  First it was his own brothers, then Potiphar and his wife of Egypt had all embittered him and became his antagonists.  He suffered from malicious slander and gossip, but despite them, he rose to prominence.  Joseph then became like the shepherd who provided aid for Jacob, THE STONE OF ISRAEL.  

Rachel's first son was saved for the final prophesy list:  At this point, Joseph cried over his father and kissed him.  Joseph had been Jacob's favorite son, being the first from Rachel.  They hadn't seen each other for so long until Jacob came upon him in Egypt and saw the powerful position had now had.
    a. Manasseh's tribe would be divided into 7 families with one called Machir and the 6 others claiming kinship with Gilead.  Half of this tribe went together with those from Reuben and Gad to have land in Transjordania.  Moses allowed it on condition that they would go to the remaining tribes in the conquest of the land as scouts.  They got Gilead, Bshan and Argob.  The other half of the tribe got land in the west of the country around the Valley of Jezreel, both highly fertile land.  Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon exiled much of the population which was partly descended from Simeon. A Jewish population partly from Simeon still existed in the West Manasseh region in the earlier 2nd Temple period.  Evidently Assyria had left a few in 721 BCE.  
           b. Ephriam: had hill country included in his land, noted for its fertility.  In the beginning, they claimed priority over other tribes due to the first religious center was Shiloh that was in their territory.  The ceding from the other tribes after Solomon's death of the Northern tribes centered on the tribe of Ephriam because Jeroboam, 1st king of these Northern tribes, was an Ephramite.  Later prophets spoke of the House of Judah and the House of Ephraim. as the 2 branches of the Hebrew people.    

12. Benjamin:  His descendants will be like a wolf; mighty and fearless warriors.  In the morning he will devour prey and in the evening he will distribute spoils.  He sounds like a Robin Hood.  King Saul, Israel's first king, was a Benjamite had a short reign but in that time had defeated Moab, Edom and Philistia.  

 The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Tanakh, The Stone Edition (Bible) Genesis 49-50


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